Amazon and Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures officially end their controversial JV



The US eCommerce giant Amazon and Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures have “mutually decided” to not continue their joint venture (JV) beyond the end of its current term.

The JV, Prione Business Services, which has been running successfully for the past seven years, was coming up for renewal on May 19, 2022.

The partners have “mutually decided to not continue their joint venture beyond the end of its current term,” they said in a statement.

The JV has enabled over 300,000 sellers and entrepreneurs to go online and enabled 4 million merchants with digital payment capabilities, they said.

“Amazon and Catamaran entered into a JV in the early days of e-commerce in India with a shared vision of transforming small businesses in a fast-changing digital world by providing online capabilities and enabling them access to customers – both in India and abroad,” said Amit Agarwal, global senior vice-president and country head, Amazon India.

“We are humbled by how the JV exceeded its vision, helping online commerce evolve through the unrelenting efforts of hundreds of its employees, positively impacting over 4.3 million small businesses, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and contributing to India’s digital economy.

“We were privileged to have had a partner we could learn from and lean on.

“I would like to thank the Catamaran team for this long and fruitful partnership that helped set the direction for e-commerce in India,” said Agarwal.

Prione was set up in 2014, a year after Amazon began selling in India, with the U.S. retailer owning 49% and Catamaran Ventures holding 51%. The idea was to train and bring on the Amazon platform new-to-online merchants, including local shops like weavers and women-led startups.

They were instructed in fundamentals like photographing and cataloging their products, writing accurate descriptions and providing customer assistance.

More controversially, Prione set up a fully-owned unit called Cloudtail that sold goods online alongside the independent shops. It grew to be one of the largest sellers on Amazon, forging agreements with premium brands like Apple and OnePlus, in part because of what smaller merchants alleged was favorable treatment. Cloudtail vended over a third of the goods sold on Amazon even as recently as two years ago.